A dark, engrossing, blood-drenched tale of the familiar threats to female power—and one girl’s journey to regain it. Five starred reviews greeted this powerful story from Elana K. Arnold, author of the Printz Honor winner Damsel.
You are alone in the woods, seen only by the unblinking yellow moon. Your hands are empty. You are nearly naked. And the wolf is angry.
Since her grandmother became her caretaker when she was four years old, Bisou Martel has lived a quiet life in a little house in Seattle. She’s kept mostly to herself. She’s been good.
But then comes the night of homecoming, when she finds herself running for her life over roots and between trees, a fury of claws and teeth behind her.
A wolf attacks. Bisou fights back. A new moon rises. And with it, questions.
About the blood in Bisou’s past, and on her hands as she stumbles home.
About broken boys and vicious wolves.
About girls lost in the woods—frightened, but not alone.
There isn't always a wolf... but there is always the threat of one." Arnold artfully spins a dark, magic-tinged "Little Red Riding Hood" retelling in which a young woman discovers the power that is her birthright. Bisou Martel, 16, has lived with her grandmother, M m , since her mother's brutal murder when Bisou was only four. Attacked in the forest by a vicious wolf after the homecoming dance the night she first gets her period Bisou must slay her pursuer or succumb to its murderous intent. The next day, a boy who behaved forcefully with Bisou at the dance is found naked in the woods, dead from the same wounds as the wolf that Bisou killed. When a classmate, Keisha, is attacked by another wolf, and another faces bullying by a likely incel, Bisou's family's past and her grandmother's closely guarded secrets come to the fore. Arnold (Damsel) effectively employs a second-person narrative ("You were ready lipstick on, hairpins in") that evokes a sense of immediacy, blurring the gap between reader and character. Though Arnold never shies from discomfort, depictions of positive male-female relationships and sexual interactions which clearly illustrate healthy, joyful, consensual experiences juxtapose the trauma and pain of nonconsensual acts. At once a sharp critique of male entitlement and a celebration of sisterhood and feminine power, this story will linger with readers long after the final page. Ages 14 up.